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How to do Roopkund Lake Trek?

Updated: May 7, 2023

Roopkund Trek is a popular high-altitude trek in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The trek takes you through the scenic beauty of the Himalayan Mountains, with stunning views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and alpine meadows. The highlight of the trek is Roopkund Lake, also known as the 'Mystery Lake', which is located at an altitude of 4,800 meters and is surrounded by stunning mountains.


The trek is challenging, with steep ascents and descents, high altitudes, and unpredictable weather conditions. It requires a good level of fitness and acclimatization to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Here are some things to know before embarking on the Roopkund Trek:


Best time to go: The best time to go for the Roopkund Trek is between May to June and September to October. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the skies are clear, offering stunning views of the mountains.

Altitude sickness: The trek involves high altitude, and it is essential to acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness. It is recommended to spend at least two days in Lohajung before starting the trek and taking it slow while ascending.

Fitness level: The trek requires a good level of fitness, and it is recommended to start training at least a month before the trek. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging, cycling, and swimming are recommended to improve your endurance.

Weather conditions: The weather conditions in the Himalayas are unpredictable, and it is essential to be prepared for all types of weather conditions. It is recommended to carry warm clothes, rain gear, and waterproof shoes.

Permits: The Roopkund Trek requires permits from the Forest Department of Uttarakhand. It is essential to obtain these permits before starting the trek.

Packing list: Some essential items to carry for the trek include a sturdy backpack, trekking shoes, warm clothes, rain gear, water bottles, energy bars, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a first aid kit.

Accommodation: There are several camping sites and guesthouses along the trek route. It is recommended to carry a tent and sleeping bag for a more comfortable and independent experience.

Guide and porters: It is recommended to hire a guide and porters for the trek. They can help carry your luggage, navigate through the trek route, and provide valuable information about the local culture and history.

Leave no trace: It is essential to follow the principle of 'Leave No Trace' and preserve the natural beauty of the trek route. It is recommended to carry back all non-biodegradable waste and dispose of it properly.


The Roopkund Trek is a challenging but rewarding experience that offers stunning views of the Himalayas and an opportunity to explore the local culture and history. With proper preparation and guidance, it can be a safe and enjoyable experience for all nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.


Roopkund Lake
Roopkund Lake - Image by Ravi Singh Rana

Roopkund Lake


Roopkund Lake is a high-altitude glacial lake located in the Uttarakhand state of India, at an elevation of 5,029 meters above sea level. The lake is also known as the "Mystery Lake" or "Skeleton Lake" due to the hundreds of human skeletons found here. The lake is surrounded by snow-clad mountains, lush green meadows, and dense forests, making it a popular trekking destination.


The lake is situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, and the trek to Roopkund Lake usually starts from the village of Lohajung. The trekking route to Roopkund Lake is about 53 km long and passes through beautiful landscapes and dense forests. The trek is moderate to difficult and takes around 7-8 days to complete, depending on the route and itinerary.


Roopkund Lake is known for the mysterious human skeletons found here. The skeletons are believed to be the remains of a group of people who died here around 1,200 years ago. The cause of their death is still a mystery and has been a topic of debate among researchers and scientists for many years. Several theories have been proposed, including an epidemic, a natural disaster, or a mass murder.


Apart from the mystery of the human skeletons, Roopkund Lake is also known for its scenic beauty. The lake is surrounded by majestic Himalayan peaks, including Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, and Chaukhamba. The trek to Roopkund Lake takes you through lush green meadows, dense forests, and high-altitude landscapes, offering stunning views of the mountains and valleys.


Roopkund Lake is also an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. The lake is believed to be the abode of the goddess Nanda Devi and is visited by devotees during the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, a religious festival held once in every 12 years.


In conclusion, Roopkund Lake is a popular trekking destination in the Uttarakhand state of India, known for its mysterious human skeletons and stunning natural beauty. The trek to Roopkund Lake is a must-do for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.



Bedni Bugyal
Bedni Bugyal - Image by Travel in Loop

How to reach Roopkund Lake?


The trek to Roopkund Lake starts from a small village called Lohajung, which is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. From Lohajung, trekkers start the journey towards Wan, which is the starting point of the trek. The trek from Wan to Bedni Bugyal is a gradual ascent through dense forests and offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Bedni Bugyal is a picturesque meadow surrounded by dense oak forests and is a popular camping site for trekkers.


From Bedni Bugyal, the trek to Roopkund Lake takes trekkers through Ali Bugyal, which is another beautiful meadow that offers panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks. The trail from Ali Bugyal to Roopkund Lake is steep and rocky, and trekkers need to be cautious while trekking on this section. The trail passes through snow patches, glaciers, and boulders before reaching Roopkund Lake.


Roopkund Lake Trek Itinerary


Roopkund Lake Trek is a popular high-altitude trek in the Indian Himalayas, located in the state of Uttarakhand. The trek takes you through dense forests, beautiful meadows, and snow-clad mountains, with the highlight being the mysterious Roopkund Lake, also known as Skeleton Lake. Here is a typical itinerary for the Roopkund Lake Trek:


Day 1: Arrival in Kathgodam

On the first day of the Roopkund Lake Trek, you will arrive at Kathgodam, which is the nearest railhead to the base camp of the trek. You can reach Kathgodam from Delhi by taking a train or a bus. Once you reach Kathgodam, you can either spend the night there or drive directly to Lohajung, which is the base camp for the trek.

Roopkund Lake Trek - Kathgodam
Kathgodam - Roopkund Lake Trek

There are several accommodation options available in Kathgodam, ranging from budget to luxury. You can choose as per your preference and budget. Some popular options include Hotel Rajshree, Hotel Shiv Shakti, and GenX Haldwani by 1589.


Day 2: Drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung (215 km / 8-9 hours)

On day 2 of the Roopkund Lake Trek itinerary, you will be traveling from Kathgodam to Lohajung by road. It is an approximately 215 km journey that takes around 8-9 hours to complete.


You will start early in the morning from Kathgodam and drive towards Lohajung, which is the base camp of the Roopkund Trek. The journey will take you through the towns of Almora and Kausani, which are known for their beautiful scenic views and tea plantations. The drive will also take you through the Kumaon hills and the beautiful Bageshwar district.

Roopkund Lake Trek
Roopkund Lake Trek - Lohajung

On the way, you will also cross the famous Gwaldam town, which is known for its apple orchards and oak forests. After reaching Lohajung, you can rest and explore the village, which is located at an altitude of 2,330 meters. You can also visit the local market and interact with the locals to get a feel of the local culture.


Overnight stay will be arranged in a guest house or a campsite in Lohajung. Make sure to get a good night's sleep and prepare yourself for the upcoming trek.


Day 3: Trek from Lohajung to Didna Village (8 km / 5-6 hours)

On day 3 of the Roopkund Lake Trek, you will start your journey from Lohajung to reach Didna Village. The trail is around 8 km long and will take approximately 5-6 hours to complete.


After having breakfast, you will start your trek through the lush green forest of oak, rhododendron, and deodar trees. The trail is a gradual ascent and offers beautiful views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. You will also cross the Kuling village on the way.


As you climb higher, the trail becomes steeper and rocky, but the views become more rewarding. You will reach the beautiful Didna Village in the afternoon. It is a small and peaceful village with a few houses and a temple. You will spend the night here in a campsite or a guesthouse.


Make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the trek. You can also carry some snacks with you to munch on during the breaks. The trek can be a bit challenging for beginners, but it is manageable if you go at a steady pace and take enough breaks.


Day 4: Didna Village to Ali Bugyal (3300m)

On Day 4, you will start trekking towards Ali Bugyal from Didna Village. The trek is approximately 10 km long and will take around 6-7 hours to complete. The trail takes you through lush green forests of oak, rhododendron, and maple trees.


The first part of the trek is a gradual climb through the forest, and after about 2 hours, you will reach Tolpani, a beautiful meadow with stunning views of the valley below. From here, you will continue to climb toward Ali Bugyal.


Roopkund Lake Trek
View from Ali Bugyal - Roopkund Lake Trek

Ali Bugyal is a vast meadow that is considered one of the most beautiful high-altitude meadows in India. It is around 3 km long and 1 km wide, and during the trekking season, it is covered with a thick layer of grass and wildflowers. The views from Ali Bugyal are breathtaking, with the snow-covered peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, and other Himalayan peaks in the distance.


You will spend the night in tents at Ali Bugyal, surrounded by the beautiful Himalayan landscape.


Day 5: Ali Bugyal to Ghora Lotani (3650m)

On day 5 of the Roopkund Lake Trek, you will be trekking from Ali Bugyal to Ghora Lotani. This will be a gradual ascent with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.


You will start the day with a hearty breakfast and then begin your trek to Ghora Lotani. The trek will take you through lush green meadows and dense forests of oak and rhododendron. As you trek higher, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks.


After trekking for a few hours, you will reach the tree line and the terrain will become more rugged. The trail will then take you through rocky terrain and narrow ridges, which will require some careful navigation.


You will finally reach Ghora Lotani, a beautiful campsite nestled amidst the mountains. You can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings or take a short walk to explore the area. In the evening, enjoy a warm meal and spend some time around the campfire before retiring for the night.


The trek from Ali Bugyal to Ghora Lotani is approximately 7 km and will take around 4-5 hours to complete. It is important to stay hydrated and carry enough water and snacks for the trek. Additionally, make sure to wear comfortable trekking shoes and warm clothes as the temperature can drop significantly at higher altitudes.


Day 6: Ghora Lotani to Bhagwabasa (4100m)

On day 6 of the Roopkund Lake Trek, you will trek from Ghora Lotani to Bhagwabasa. The distance covered on this day will be around 4 km, which will take approximately 3-4 hours to complete.


You will start the day by trekking through beautiful meadows filled with alpine flowers. The trail will take you through dense forests of oak and rhododendron trees, which will gradually thin out as you climb higher.


As you reach Bhagwabasa, the vegetation will give way to barren terrain, with rocky slopes and moraines dominating the landscape. The views of the surrounding peaks, including Trishul and Nanda Ghunti, will be truly spectacular.


Bhagwabasa is a small campsite situated at an altitude of 4100m. You will spend the night here, getting acclimatized to the high altitude and preparing for the next day's trek to Roopkund Lake.


Day 7: Bhagwabasa to Roopkund Lake (5029m) and back to Bhagwabasa

On day 7 of the Roopkund Lake trek, you will finally reach the highlight of the trek – the mysterious Roopkund Lake, also known as Skeleton Lake.


You will start your day early in the morning to ensure that you have enough time to reach the lake and explore the area. The trek to Roopkund Lake is approximately 5 km from Bhagwabasa and will take around 3-4 hours to complete.


The trail from Bhagwabasa to Roopkund Lake is steep and strenuous, and you will be trekking at an altitude of 5029m, so it is important to maintain a steady pace and take breaks as needed to acclimatize to the altitude.


As you trek higher, the landscape will become more barren and rocky, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You will cross a few small streams and glacial moraines before finally reaching the lake.


Upon reaching Roopkund Lake, you will be able to see the remains of human and animal skeletons scattered around the lake. It is believed that the skeletons are the remains of a group of pilgrims who perished in a hailstorm or avalanche around 800 years ago.


After spending some time at the lake, taking pictures and exploring the area, you will head back to Bhagwabasa for lunch and rest.


In the afternoon, you can explore the surrounding area, or take a short acclimatization hike to the nearby Kalu Vinayak Temple, located at an altitude of 4150m. From here, you can also get stunning views of Trishul Peak and other snow-capped mountains.


You will spend the night at Bhagwabasa, with the sound of the wind and the nearby glaciers providing a soothing lullaby.


Day 8: Bhagwabasa to Patar Nachauni (3850m)

On day 8 of the Roopkund Lake trek, you will trek from Bhagwabasa to Patar Nachauni. It is a downhill trek, and you will gradually descend from an altitude of 4100m to 3850m.


The trek starts early in the morning, and you will trek towards Patar Nachauni through the same route that you took while climbing up. The route is quite steep, and you need to be careful while descending.


You will come across beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and forests as you trek down to Patar Nachauni. The trail takes you through lush green meadows, glistening streams, and dense forests.


After a few hours of trekking, you will reach Patar Nachauni, where you will set up your camps for the night. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the scenic beauty around you.


The trek from Bhagwabasa to Patar Nachauni takes about 5-6 hours, depending on your pace. It is a relatively easier trek compared to the previous day's trek to Roopkund Lake, and you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the trail without much difficulty.


Overall, day 8 of the Roopkund Lake trek is a relaxing day, and you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Himalayan mountains at your own pace.


Day 9: Patar Nachauni to Lohajung

On day 9, you will start your descent from Patar Nachauni to Lohajung, which is around 11 km and takes about 5-6 hours. You will follow the same route that you took while ascending and pass through the beautiful forests of rhododendron and oak. You will also cross the Bedni Ganga River and pass through the scenic Ali Bugyal and Didna Village before reaching Lohajung.


Once you reach Lohajung, you can rest and relax for the day. You can explore the local market, interact with the locals, and try some local cuisine. Overnight stay will be at a guesthouse in Lohajung.


Day 10: Lohajung to Kathgodam

As the Roopkund Lake trek officially ends on Day 9 with the return to Lohajung, Day 10 involves the return journey from Lohajung to Kathgodam, from where one can depart for their onward journey.


On Day 10, after having breakfast in Lohajung, trekkers can start their journey back to Kathgodam by a hired taxi or shared jeep. The journey takes around 8-9 hours, covering a distance of 215 km.


Trekkers can enjoy the scenic beauty of the region during the journey, passing through lush green forests, mountainous terrain, and stunning views of the Himalayas. Upon reaching Kathgodam, one can stay for the night or depart for their onward journey.


Things to know before doing Roopkund Trek

If you are planning to go on Roopkund Trek, here are some things that you should know before embarking on the journey:


1. Physical Fitness: The Roopkund Trek is a challenging trek, and it requires a good level of physical fitness. You should start working out at least a month before the trek to improve your endurance, strength, and stamina.


2. Acclimatization: It is important to acclimatize your body to the high altitude. Take rest at regular intervals and drink plenty of water to prevent altitude sickness.


3. Weather Conditions: The weather conditions in the Himalayas can be unpredictable. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather, such as heavy rain, snowfall, and strong winds.


4. Packing List: Make sure to carry all the necessary items for the trek, such as warm clothes, waterproof jackets, hiking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a first-aid kit.


5. Trekking Permits: You will need to obtain a trekking permit from the forest department to go on the Roopkund Trek. Make sure to obtain the necessary permits well in advance.


6. Guided Trek: It is advisable to go on a guided trek as the trail can be challenging, and a guide can help you navigate the terrain and ensure your safety.


7. Environmental Concerns: The Roopkund Trek is a popular trek, and it is important to follow environmental guidelines to preserve the natural beauty of the area. Do not litter, and respect the local culture and customs.


By keeping these things in mind, you can prepare yourself for an unforgettable trek to Roopkund Lake.


Things to carry on Roopkund Trek


Here is a list of things to carry on the Roopkund Trek:


1. Backpack: A comfortable and sturdy backpack to carry all your essentials.

2. Trekking shoes: A good pair of trekking shoes with a strong grip to tackle the rough and slippery terrain.

3. Warm clothing: Warm layers like a thermal innerwear, fleece jacket, and down jacket to stay warm in the cold weather.

4. Rainwear: A waterproof and windproof jacket and pants to protect you from rain and wind.

5. Trekking pants: Quick-dry trekking pants that are comfortable and stretchy for ease of movement.

6. Gloves: Waterproof gloves to protect your hands from cold weather and wind.

7. Headlamp: A headlamp or a torch with extra batteries for navigating through the dark during early morning or night treks.

8. Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from harsh sunlight and snow glare.

9. Sunscreen: A high SPF sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

10. Water bottle: A sturdy water bottle with a capacity of at least 2 liters to stay hydrated throughout the trek.

11. Trekking poles: Trekking poles to provide stability and support on the steep and slippery sections of the trail.

12. First-aid kit: A basic first-aid kit with medicines for altitude sickness, pain relief, and other common ailments.

13. Toiletries: Toiletries like tissue paper, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to maintain hygiene on the trek.

14. Energy bars and snacks: High-energy snacks like energy bars, dry fruits, and chocolates to keep you fueled during the trek.

15. Camera: A good quality camera to capture the stunning views of the Roopkund Lake and the surrounding Himalayan peaks.


It is important to pack light and carry only the essentials to avoid unnecessary weight and difficulty during the trek.


Q&A


Is the Roopkund trek open in 2023?

Roopkund Trek is still closed. There is no information from the government yet. However, it is always advisable to check with the local authorities or trekking agencies for the latest updates and guidelines before planning any trek.


How difficult is the Roopkund trek?

The Roopkund trek is considered to be a moderate to difficult trek. The trek involves steep ascents and descents, rough terrain, and altitude gain. The highest point of the trek is Roopkund Lake, which is located at an altitude of 5,029 meters (16,499 feet) above sea level. The trek also involves camping at high altitudes and requires a good level of physical fitness and endurance. However, with proper preparation and acclimatization, the trek can be done by individuals with prior trekking experience.


Why is Roopkund Lake also known as Skeleton Lake?

Roopkund Lake is also known as Skeleton Lake due to the presence of hundreds of human skeletal remains near the edge of the lake. The remains are believed to be the result of a sudden hailstorm that occurred in the area several hundred years ago. According to local folklore, a group of pilgrims, including men, women, and children, were caught in a severe hailstorm while crossing the high-altitude Roopkund Pass. The hailstones were so large and intense that they caused fatal injuries to the pilgrims, leading to their untimely deaths. The remains were discovered by a forest ranger in 1942 and have since been studied and researched by various experts.


What is the trek distance of Roopkund?

The total trekking distance of Roopkund Trek is approximately 53 kilometers (33 miles) round trip, depending on the specific route and variations chosen by the trekker.


What is the best time to go on the Roopkund trek?

The best time to go on the Roopkund trek is during the summer months from May to June and September to October. During these months, the weather is usually clear and dry, making it easier to trek. The monsoon season from July to August is not recommended as the trail can become slippery and the region experiences heavy rainfall. The winter months from November to April are also not suitable for trekking as the region is covered in snow and the temperatures can drop to extreme levels.


What is the altitude of Roopkund Lake?

Roopkund Lake is located at an altitude of 5029 meters (16,499 feet) above sea level.


Is it safe to go on the Roopkund trek?

Yes, the Roopkund trek is generally considered safe, but as with any trek, there are risks involved. It's important to take appropriate precautions and be well-prepared for the trek, including having proper gear and clothing, staying hydrated and well-fed, and following the advice of your guide. Altitude sickness can also be a risk, so it's important to acclimatize properly and seek medical attention if necessary. Additionally, the weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so it's important to be prepared for rain, snow, or other extreme weather conditions.


What is the cost of the Roopkund trek?

The cost of the Roopkund trek can vary depending on several factors such as the trekking company or guide you choose, the duration of the trek, the number of days of accommodation and meals included, and the level of services and facilities provided.


Generally, the cost of a standard Roopkund trek can range from 12000 INR to 19000 INR per person. This usually includes transportation, accommodation in tents or guesthouses, meals, permits, and the services of a guide and support staff.


However, the cost can be higher if you opt for a more luxurious experience with better accommodation and facilities or choose a private tour with a personal guide.


It is important to do your research and choose a reputable trekking company with experienced guides and good reviews to ensure your safety and a quality experience.

 

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